This past weekend I ran across Jack Daniel's "Whiskey Barrel Charcoal Briquets & Smoker Blocks" at my local Sportsman's Warehouse store. Being a lover of the standard JD barrel chips, I simply had to buy the last two bags on the shelf.
The bags are only 6.5 pounds, and I paid $6.99 per bag. However, the product is really two-in-one. It contains briquettes that are impregnated with tiny barrel chips, along with 1½" solid barrel wood chunks (cut from the staves). Since the barrels are made of white oak, it works really well as an addition to your normal smoke wood. I use the chips like the wood version of black pepper -- just a heavy sprinkle on top to finish.
I've never seen this product before, and I think it might be discontinued. I scoured the internet and could not find any trace of it. Also, there isn't any real discernible whiskey smell in the bag; i.e. it's probably old. In fact, there's even a note to this effect printed on the bag.
In any event, I will try it, and I'm almost certain I will like it. Why do I say that? Because, as I mentioned, I love their chips, and I'll probably never be able to find it again. Ain't that the way it almost always works?
Afterthought: Can I ask a seemingly stupid question? Why in the world doesn't one of the major charcoal brands (like, oh I don't know, that one that starts with a 'K') partner with a whiskey maker and offer these impregnated briquettes on a large scale? Maybe there aren't enough barrels to go around, but it would be nice.
Update - 02/14/09
Tonight I used a mix of this JD charcoal with some of the new Kingsford Competition Briquets (probably about an 20/80 mix, respectively) to cook some chicken and the flavor was amazing. I've never been a real fan of oak for smoke, but the combination is outstanding for chicken.
Update - 03/15/09
Last night I used these briquets mixed with some Kingsford standard and Competition (about 50% / 20% / 30%, respectively) for my Pomegranate Chile Lime-glazed pork tenderloin. This combination of coals worked very well.